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The Power of Grass : Myth , Lore , Poetry , and Song  RSS feed

 
wayne stephen
steward
Posts: 1793
Location: Western Kentucky-Climate Unpredictable Zone 6b
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Compared to trees , roses , heather , and clover - grass seems to have recieved the short stick in our romantic heritage . So , I have been researching references to grass in literature and song and have found a few tasty tidbits .

Of course Walt Whitmans "A child said 'What is the Grass' ?":

A child said, What is the grass? fetching it to me with full
hands;
How could I answer the child?. . . .I do not know what it
is any more than he.

I guess it must be the flag of my disposition, out of hopeful
green stuff woven.

Or I guess it is the handkerchief of the Lord,
A scented gift and remembrancer designedly dropped,
Bearing the owner's name someway in the corners, that we
may see and remark, and say Whose?

Or I guess the grass is itself a child. . . .the produced babe
of the vegetation.

Or I guess it is a uniform hieroglyphic,
And it means, Sprouting alike in broad zones and narrow
zones,
Growing among black folks as among white,
Kanuck, Tuckahoe, Congressman, Cuff, I give them the
same, I receive them the same.

And now it seems to me the beautiful uncut hair of graves.

Tenderly will I use you curling grass,
It may be you transpire from the breasts of young men,
It may be if I had known them I would have loved them;
It may be you are from old people and from women, and
from offspring taken soon out of their mother's laps,
And here you are the mother's laps.

This grass is very dark to be from the white heads of old
mothers,
Darker than the colorless beards of old men,
Dark to come from under the faint red roofs of mouths.

O I perceive after all so many uttering tongues!
And I perceive they do not come from the roofs of mouths
for nothing.

I wish I could translate the hints about the dead young men
and women,
And the hints about old men and mothers, and the offspring
taken soon out of their laps.

What do you think has become of the young and old men?
What do you think has become of the women and
children?

They are alive and well somewhere;
The smallest sprouts show there is really no death,
And if ever there was it led forward life, and does not wait
at the end to arrest it,
And ceased the moment life appeared.

All goes onward and outward. . . .and nothing collapses,
And to die is different from what any one supposed, and
luckier.


And of course Whitmans ever evolving tome "Leaves of Grass" .


I found an anecdote about the Oglala warrior Crazy Horse . Until the end of his life when he was murdered he had not spoken to white men . There are no photographs of him . So , unlike many other Native Americans of his time there are no transcribed speeches by him or conversations with him by soldiers or reporters . Whites who claimed to have seen him reported a warrior in battle on a white horse painted with lightening bolts . He lacked adornment they could see . No feathers or warbonnets . Those Oglala who knew him reported differently . He adorned his weapons and hair with strands of grasses . His cousin Flying Hawk revealed a story told to him by Crazy Horse of how grass came to confer it's power on him and lead him to a vision of his future while still in-utero . This is the profound story Crazy Horse told Flying Hawk :

"I was sitting on a hill or a rise , and something touched me on the head . I felt for it and found it was a bit of grass . I took it to look at . There was a trail nearby and I followed it . It led to water . I went into the water . There the trail ended and I sat down in the water . I was nearly out of breath . I started to rise out of the water , and when I came out I was born by my mother . When I was born I could know and see and understand for a time , but afterwards went back to it as a baby . Then I grew up naturally - at the age of seven I began to learn , and when twelve began to fight enemies . That was the reason I always refused to wear any war dress , only a bit of grass in the hair . That was why I was always successful in battles ."


The Hindu tale of Kush and Lav :

"In Raamaayan, another folk narrative states that Seetaa gave birth to only one son called Lav. One day, she left the child in the care of sage Vaalmeeki and went to the forest to collect firewood. While she was away, the child wandered off. Vaalmeeki, not finding the child, became tense. He took Kush grass, turned it into a small doll and using his magical powers created another son, who was in the very likeness of Lav, so that Seetaa is not worried about Her son. So when Seetaa came back She took Kush as Lav, of course later Lav also came back. Since Kush was created in the image of Lav both looked like twin brothers ."

And the lyrics to a preschool song :

The Green Grass Grows All Around Song :

There was a tree (there was a tree)
All in the wood (all in the wood)
The prettiest tree (the prettiest tree)
That you ever did see (that you ever did see)

And the tree in the ground
And the green grass grows all around, all around
The green grass grows all around

And on that tree (and on that tree)
There was a branch (there was a branch)
The prettiest branch (the prettiest branch)
That you ever did see (that you ever did see)

And the branch on the tree
And the tree in the ground
And the green grass grows all around, all around
The green grass grows all around.

And on that branch (and on that branch)
There was a nest (there was a nest)
The prettiest nest (the prettiest nest)
That you ever did see (that you ever did see)

And the nest on the branch
And the branch on the tree
And the tree in the ground
And the green grass grows all around, all around
The green grass grows all around.

And in that nest (and in that nest)
There was an egg (there was an egg)
The prettiest egg (the prettiest egg)
That you ever did see (that you ever did see)

And the egg in the nest
And the nest on the branch
And the branch on the tree
And the tree in the ground
And the green grass grows all around, all around
The green grass grows all around.

And in that egg (and in that egg)
There was a bird (there was a bird)
The prettiest bird (the prettiest bird)
That you ever did see (that you ever did see)

And the bird in the egg
And the egg in the nest
And the nest on the branch
And the branch on the tree
And the tree in the ground
And the green grass grows all around, all around
The green grass grows all around.

And on that bird (and on that bird)
There was a wing (there was a wing)
The prettiest wing (the prettiest wing)
That you ever did see (that you ever did see)

And the wing on the bird
And the bird in the egg
And the egg in the nest
And the nest on the branch
And the branch on the tree
And the tree in the ground
And the green grass grows all around, all around
The green grass grows all around.

And on that wing (and on that wing)
There was a bug (there was a bug)
The prettiest bug (the prettiest bug)
That you ever did see (that you ever did see)

And the bug on the wing,
And the wing on the bird
And the bird in the egg
And the egg in the nest
And the nest on the branch
And the branch on the tree
And the tree in the ground
And the green grass grows all around, all around
The green grass grows all around.

Oh, the green grass grows all around, all around
The green grass grows all around!

Thanks for your patience !





 
allen lumley
pollinator
Posts: 4154
Location: Northern New York Zone4-5 the OUTER 'RONDACs percip 36''
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wayne stephen : Michael Polland, Famous for his Quote " Don't eat anything your great-grandmother would not recognize as food " End Quote , Proposes the Theory
that grass has enslaved man to help it compete against trees for space on the habitable surface of the planet ! If you lived in a community where your neighbors can
tell you when to cut your grass you might easily believe that.

Anyway good read, thanks for sharing ! Big AL
 
wayne stephen
steward
Posts: 1793
Location: Western Kentucky-Climate Unpredictable Zone 6b
104
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“More grass means less forest; more forest less grass. But either-or is a construction more deeply woven into our culture than into nature, where even antagonists depend on one another and the liveliest places are the edges, the in-betweens or both-ands..... Relations are what matter most.”

- Michael Pollan "The Omnivores Dilemna"


“Mowing the lawn, I felt like I was battling the earth rather than working it; each week it sent forth a green army and each week I beat it back with my infernal machine. Unlike every other plant in my garden, the grasses were anonymous, massified, deprived of any change or development whatsoever, not to mention any semblance of self-determination. I ruled a totalitarian landscape.
Hot monotonous hours behind the mower gave rise to existential speculations. I spent part of one afternoon trying to decide who, it the absurdist drama of lawn mowing, was Sisyphus. Me? The case could certainly be made. Or was it the grass, pushing up through the soil every week, one layer of cells at a time, only to be cut down and then, perversely, encouraged (with lime, fertilizer, etc.) to start the whole doomed process over again? Another day it occurred to me that time as we know it doesn't exist in the lawn, since grass never dies or is allowed to flower and set seed. Lawns are nature purged of sex or death. No wonder Americans like them so much.”

- Michael Pollan "A Gardeners Education"

 
Daniel Kern
Posts: 197
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Well compared to forests grasslands contain more organic matter. this makes grasslands prime farmland. This is why just about all of the Prairie land in central Texas was settled in the 1st place, and now it is mainly city.



I believe that grass is extremely important to soil fertility. But working it into a productive system is a challenge (from my perspective) but it can be done, I just need to do some more observation of our remaining unmowed grasslands. Also grasses have been proven to make good cover crops adding organic matter deep into the soil year after year.
 
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